As you age, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease. Doing so could help avoid or delay symptoms such as chest pain, a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease is typically caused by atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries. This restricts blood flow to your heart, leading to symptoms like chest pain or a heart attack.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating healthily is one of the most important ways you can reduce your risk for heart disease as you age. Additionally, it helps keep you at a healthy weight and protects against other chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; choosing low-fat dairy products, fish or poultry; and limiting saturated fats, added sugars and sodium can all help you reach your nutritional goals. You could even incorporate more nutrient-dense foods like nuts or legumes into your meals for added benefits.
Eating a diet high in protein, particularly lean meat and poultry, is essential for feeling full for longer and increasing energy levels.
Eating a balanced diet can have numerous health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Furthermore, it helps you prevent weight gain and obesity – both of which are known risk factors for heart disease.
Additionally, a heart-healthy diet can improve your oral hygiene and prevent tooth decay. It also helps you keep strong bones, helping prevent osteoporosis.
Eating healthily can not only aid weight management and lift your spirits, but it may also lower the risk of certain cancers and other serious medical issues.
Start by consulting your doctor or dietitian for advice and direction. A diet consisting of plenty of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts can aid weight loss while controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Eating a diet rich in protein, such as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs is essential. Vegetarians should fill one-quarter of their plate with such items as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds for extra energy boost.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease as you age. Not only does it lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, but it also makes you feel more alert and healthy overall.
Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent diabetes, osteoporosis, colon and breast cancers, as well as dementia (memory loss). Furthermore, exercise improves moods, energy levels and sleep quality.
Make time each week for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Do this by engaging in activities you enjoy, such as brisk walking, dancing, bowling or gardening.
Exercise regularly not only helps to preserve muscle mass and strength as you age, but it can also reduce the risk of falling and bone loss as well as enhance mobility.
Physical exercise can strengthen your immune system and lower the likelihood of depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues. Furthermore, it builds resilience to deal with stressful events.
Establishing a habit of regular exercise can take anywhere from two to six weeks, but with persistence it becomes easier. To stay motivated, set goals and celebrate small victories along the way.
3. Don’t Smoke
One of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease as you age is quitting smoking. Cigarette and tobacco smoke contain nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other toxins which can adversely affect your cardiovascular system in numerous ways.
By inhaling cigarette smoke, your blood vessels become constricted and narrowed, placing additional strain on the heart which could ultimately lead to heart attack or stroke.
Increased stress also raises blood pressure and leads to an irregular heart rhythm. These conditions may result in angina – chest pain that makes walking or performing everyday tasks difficult.
Even if you have already been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, quitting smoking can reduce your risks and help you live longer. Each year that goes by without smoking reduces your overall heart disease risk by half.
If you are a smoker who wants to quit, there are various tools that can help. These include nicotine patches, gums, lozenges and nasal sprays which provide quick hits of nicotine when needed.
You may want to look into programs or classes that provide tips and support for quitting smoking. Accessing free resources like this can make quitting much simpler for you.
Additionally, quitting will save you money. Not having to purchase cigarettes as often will free up funds that could otherwise be put towards other health-related costs such as prescription medications or medical treatment for illnesses.
Finally, be sure to ask friends and family not to smoke around you. Secondhand smoke is a major risk factor for heart disease and lung cancer, so it’s essential to avoid it whenever possible.
4. Manage Your Blood Pressure
There are many ways to lower your risk of heart disease as you age, such as changing diet and lifestyle. Additionally, speaking with a doctor about blood pressure monitoring could be beneficial; regularly checking the readings could help detect high blood pressure before it causes serious issues.
At least every two years, beginning at age 18, you should get your blood pressure checked. Your doctor can assist in creating a plan to manage your condition and avoid other health problems associated with high blood pressure.
Many people find that diet and exercise are sufficient to reduce high blood pressure. However, for some individuals, medication may be required in order to achieve lasting results. High blood pressure not only raises the risk of heart disease but it’s also a contributory factor in other chronic illnesses and health complications as well.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest making changes in lifestyle habits such as eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise and reducing salt consumption. They may also prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure and manage other medical conditions that increase the likelihood of having high blood pressure.
A recent study suggests that lowering high blood pressure in older adults may reduce their risk for stroke, heart attack and other serious health problems. Specifically, researchers observed that reducing systolic blood pressure (the top number) to less than 120 mm Hg significantly reduced death and heart attack risks among these individuals.
Atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fat deposits in your arteries, is a leading cause of heart disease. Over time, this narrowing leads to blockages in blood flow to the heart and may manifest as symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath – leading to an increase in heart attacks among older individuals.
5. Manage Your Cholesterol
There are a number of steps you can take to manage your cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease as you age. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and keeping weight under control are all key to successful management of these conditions.
A balanced, nutritious diet should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as low-fat dairy products. Additionally, opt for foods that contain fibre – especially soluble fibre which has been known to lower cholesterol levels.
Foods high in saturated fat – such as red meat, full-fat dairy products, butter and coconut oil – can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. By substituting these with unsaturated fats you may help lower your total cholesterol level.
Unsaturated fats such as nut butters, olive oil and cooking oils made from plant or seed oil contain high amounts of plant sterols which have been known to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Avoid processed foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, deli-style meats, deep-fried takeaway items and prepackaged cookies, crackers and cakes. Many of these items contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or trans fats.
Furthermore, you should avoid refined sugar as this type of sweetener is high in calories and saturated with fat. Refined sugar may contribute to an increase in total cholesterol due to its calorific content.
Eating a nutritious diet can help lower your total cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. For instance, swap out red meat for chicken or turkey and full-fat dairy products with low-fat milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
Eat more fresh produce, and steer clear of fried foods. Doing so can help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To learn more about maintaining a healthy diet, speak to your doctor.